Seeing the world through the lens and beyond – Deborah Owen, Photographer

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Passions, Frustrations and Legacies

11496_10153201783940136_1553834160_nAs a woman who sets goals for herself I work toward those goals through a timeline of individual ways of reaching those goals. Last year I wrote out a five year plan and as I completed the first year I realized I have begun a life that will allow me to be working for myself and enjoying my many passions. This is the year to really establish myself as a photographer and market myself and actually make an income.  I have also decided what type of photography I want to work in. I want to photograph weddings, portraiture; especially women and of course my events and concerts. I feel that this is where I do my very best work and I am so incredibly passionate about these avenues.

It’s not easy when people don’t value my time or effort and think all I do is “push a button”. They forget the time spent in preparation of the work, time spent actually photographing and all the post work that goes into the captured images. I belong to several online groups where I am able to share my frustrations and gain some input into how to handle those clients who don’t understand I’m creating a lifetime of memories for them. What I do is unique to me and I only put out my best work to the clients. In this day and age anyone with a digital camera is a photographer, but I would like to think my lifetime of experience sets me apart from those who have never looked through a viewfinder until they purchased their first basic DSLR. It’s incredibly frustrating to have someone tell me how wonderful my work is yet they feel they can cheapen what I do by wanting me to lower my prices for them. If I am going to make a living doing this, I need to help my clients to understand my value.

Being the daughter of a professional photographer I grew up understanding the basics of what it takes to make an incredible photograph, and the lessons learned in that darkroom have manifested into how I see and process the images I take. I view things as a painter of light and I can see composition in the simplest of ideas. I know a few photographers who take incredible photographs simply with their cell phones and yes I call them photographers because they understand light and composition and see things so uniquely, they are constantly producing some of the most creative images I have ever seen.  The camera is simply an instrument of what the eyes see and the heart feels.

My job as your photographer is to creative an image that first tells a story and second will leave a legacy to your family and lastly to make you feel and look incredible no matter if you are male or female. You cannot put a value on that. Anyone who has taken photos of their children understand this concept. When people lose their homes to flood or fire or some natural disaster they first thing they either take with them or look for is their photographs, why? Because many of those photographs are from an era that has passed and it’s all they have left of a loved one. I am so honored to have many of the photographs my father took and those from my mother’s family.

So when you see my work and you visit my menu of services, remember the value of those photographs, they are my passion and understand my frustration when you undervalue your legacy.

Giving up?

You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait.    This past week was one of those weeks.  I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities.  For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life.  As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world.  I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback.  These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use.  Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.

I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work.  I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing.  However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient).  I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about.  Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.

Luke Bryan-31 (Medium)Luke Bryan-29 (Medium)

A Final Farewell

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I really had not planned on writing tonight, but I’m home instead of being out celebrating and I didn’t know I would be as emotional about this whole New Year thing, but here I am at the computer typing my thoughts for the world to read.  So here goes….

This time last year on December 31, 2013 I was also alone, but I went out and enjoyed an evening at a local establishment (which sadly is no longer open), listened to a band who was losing their lead singer to cancer, it was to be his final performance, he passed a month later. When I first arrived at my table, I was a bit upset, they didn’t seat me with anyone……I was in a huge outdoor seating area, sitting alone at a table for four and I felt really awkward and thought maybe I shouldn’t be there.  You see I had just ended a four-year relationship and was determined that my life was going to be better alone than what I was enduring the last couple of years in that relationship.  As I sat at my table being served a wonderful surf & turf dinner by the best waitress ever, I kept thinking “2014 will be my year”.  It was quite chilly and I wasn’t really dressed for the coolness, but I endured to midnight, had a glass of champagne and toasted what was to come.  A young girl came over to me and gave me a huge hug and invited me to her table, I declined,  You see I was holding back tears, because I wanted her to know I was fine and really wasn’t staying much longer.  I finished my glass, and took the rest of the bottle to their larger table and wished them all a Happy New Year and left.  Driving home I was almost smiling at the thought that I got through the evening and I was going to be just fine.

Life simply got better, I was surrounded by friends who rallied around me and kept me encouraged in the midst of those sad few trying to discredit me and my work.  I threw myself into my photography and began to pick up more and more work.  I realized I was much more successful on my own and was regaining my self-confidence and finding my lost identity once again.  I have talent and my photography is good and even though the gossip mongers were trying to tear me down I was surpassing my own expectations!  I also picked up a new partner in my photography; my son Tommy who is incredible and he knows how to use his camera, he’s so amazingly talented and creative. We are my father’s prodigies, he would be proud of us.

Tommy allowed  me to photograph him and in return I succumbed to the front of his lens as well, not an easy task for a photographer.  It felt awkward and unnatural, but after a few minutes I began to enjoy the experience and really loved the images he produced of me.

Tommy-2 Tommy-25 Mother's Day shoot-5 Mother's Day shoot-16

As the year progressed I was able to add an incredible amount of images to my portfolio and actually had the privilege of photographing my all time favorite former Beatle Ringo Starr (bucket list).

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

I have had a set back or two, but I never allowed them to get the best of me, because I know I’m right where I need to be.  God is in control of my life and what I am doing.  My faith is unwavering.  The end of the year has been trying with finding out a close friend was diagnosed with cancer, thankfully she is a fighter and it didn’t win, she did! I’ve added friends to my very small circle and I love each one of them.  I also just sent a text my to my son and his response brought on the emotions.  I have two incredible boys and my youngest is a lot like me in more ways than with a camera.

So here I am ending my year in a puddle of tears, yet I know 2015 is going to be even better than 2014.  I will find love again this year because I’m ready and I know God is preparing someone for me, and I will be one step closer to realizing my dream of being a full-time working photographer.  I am beginning the new year documenting the journey back to health of a woman in the fight for her life and hope to highlight her here in the very near future.  So to all of my followers, stay tuned, it’s only going to get better.  God Bless each of you, treat each moment as if it could be your last….Love, laugh, dance and sing…… 2015 is going to ROCK!  Happy New Year!

Shortness of Life

Christmas-3 (Medium)Christmas is a great time to love on your family and to enjoy each other and to laugh.  I know as I grow older, family and friends become so very important.  When you are a child, you think time passes so very slowly……you can’t wait for Christmas break.  As you get older those holiday breaks come even faster and disappear just as fast.  This holiday was spent with friends and family and it could not have been any better.   I used to love decorating and getting the house ready for the boys and the visit from Santa, but lately I have not felt that inspiration to decorate.  For several years I didn’t even want to celebrate.  The last couple of years have been truly amazing and I have had so much fun with my family.  I love watching the little ones open their gifts, I have missed that excitement.

After hearing some not so good news today, I once again realize how short life can be.  We never know when our last breath will be, and we need to take each day and make it the best we can.  Dance as if no one is watching, sing in the shower as if no one is listening, love like it will be your last, and be with those that make you happy.  Let your loved ones know how you feel otherwise you may never get the chance.  We are only given so many beats of our heart, use those beats with passion.  Don’t wait, because you think you may have the time; death is not considerate of age, it can come at any time.  So for this Christmas season, I spent it with the exact people I was supposed to spend it with and will continue to let those I care about know how I feel throughout this coming New Year.

2014 A Year in Review

 

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The year of change

Looking back through this year, I am simply humbled by what has transpired. The concerts and artists I have been fortunate enough to photograph has been incredible, I have worked with some of the best folks in the business from radio, television and beyond.  Venue management has been incredible to work with from locally in Fort Myers throughout the Tampa Bay area, just top-notch all the way.  I’ve had some incredible referrals from those I’ve worked with and photographed for which has opened up some amazing opportunities and I am so very grateful for them.  I’ve had my work featured on some major artist’s social media outlets which just astonishes me; it simply staggers my mind to know they are looking at my work.  And I have been able to meet a lot of new people in areas I would have never expected.

2014 was all about change and learning who I was as a photographer, going into the new year I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted to take with my photography, I knew I wanted to film events, but beyond that I still wasn’t sure. After engaging in a few different subject matters I know what and who I want to shoot.  The concerts, festivals and events are my number one choice for photography; I love the lights and bending my creativity to make the lighting work around the artists.  I have also found I enjoy weddings, especially the small destination weddings, but I really enjoy shooting them more than I thought I would initially, and I get to work with my favorite photographer, my son Tommy.  The other subject I enjoy immensely is shooting women over 40, I find that empowering and also joyful for myself and for them, especially when they see how beautiful they are.  Finally I will continue to relax by heading to the woods, ‘Glades or a local zoo and simply shoot what I want. This keeps me balanced and focused on what really matters.

This year also taught me all about those who have supported me and how incredible they are.  One of my very dear friends has fought the battle of her life, but will be starting out 2015 completely cancer free!  I love my friends, they understand me and have been there to cheer me on.   I have made a few new friends too, those who went from being acquaintances to full-fledged friends.  I can’t imagine life without them now.

Looking to the Future

With 2015 right around the corner I have to come up with my next steps in my five-year plan;  I need to sit down with pen and paper and write out what I would like to see for this next year that will fit within my goals.  I’m a planner and goal setter and for things to happen in my world I must have a plan.

2014 – This was the year for getting my feet wet as a photographer, deciding what I wanted to focus on and where I want to take this awesome business.

2015 – This will be the year of marketing myself more, hitting  major goals such as becoming an LLC and setting up a full business plan and scope of services and opening more doors for myself.  I know I’m good enough and I am constantly wanting to learn new techniques and learn from those more seasoned.

2016 – Begin the transition to becoming a full-time photographer

2017 – Open a fully operating gallery and studio

2018 – Retiring from full-time job and taking on photography full-time with my son Tommy

These are lofty goals and I know I will hit each one of them.  I don’t need to compete with anyone as my work speaks for itself and those who are in front of my lens are there for a reason.  I have been blessed with a talent, but more than that I have been blessed with the passion, to hold a camera, to view what is in my lens and to create greatness from that image.  A long time friend told me recently that my dad would be incredibly proud of me for where I have taken this love, and I understand now, what I did not understand then, my dad had a passion for capturing images and freezing time; it was his superpower.  This year I will make it mine.

Happy 2015 Everyone!

Poofing Dandelions

Corkscrew-7 A really good writer friend of mine recently posed a question on her organizations Facebook page for Women in Leadership: “Christ was never hurried. Even in the face of the death of a friend (Lazarus in John 11) he did not hurry. What would have to change in the lives of women today for them not to be hurried?” -Karen Zeigler I had to really think about that, because I am constantly hurrying from point A to point B at any given moment. I no longer have young children to pull me from place to place and since I am now single, I don’t have the obligations of home life that I once had, but still I am constantly juggling a schedule as an employee and also as a working photographer. My weekends are often taken up with events and photo shoots. As I was driving home, an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip popped in my mind. Calvin is laying in a field of dandelions with Hobbes and he asks Hobbes.. “Have you ever poofed a dandelion? You haven’t lived until you poof a dandelion.” I’ve not thought about little exchange in years, but it suddenly made total sense. We need to take the time to slow down and poof dandelions. Even the bible has a say in this. In Luke 10:38-42 we see Martha was busy preparing for Jesus and his disciples visit and her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus not helping her but listening to what he had to say and Martha got upset and asked Jesus to basically make Mary get up and help. Jesus responded by telling Martha that Mary was doing what was required of her at that time. He was giving the woman permission to not be busy, but to take a few minutes to do what was important to them and to renew their minds and spirit. I’m not sure what that looks like for most people, but for me it’s getting away and renewing my inner creative self, even if it’s simply taking a walk in the park, the beach or even going away to the woods for the weekend. After an adventure I am renewed and refreshed and ready to get back to my hectic schedule. This is not always easy, I’m a spontaneous person and I like to pick up and go, but this past year I have had to pencil in this time in my schedule, I also stick to it, if something comes up I decline with an “I’m sorry I’m already scheduled somewhere else”. I must do this to keep up my energy and creativity. Give yourself permission to take time for yourself, even if it’s only for a half hour, sit on your porch in the early morning before the house wakes up and sip a good cup of coffee, take a walk in the park or get away for a weekend either alone or with friends. Slow down and look for a dandelion to poof.

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Life in Balance

A walk on the wild side

A walk on the wild side

I was talking with a friend yesterday as we strolled around the Taste of Lee and we were discussing ways to keep our energy levels up.  I work a full time job that currently pays the bills and I work about 30 hours a week on my photography, either with attending and shooting events or on the computer editing or handling my social media. He works really long hours some days and also understands the need to chill even though he too has an abundance of energy. I shared with him I take  really great supplements, however he also reminded me I take “time-outs” or down time to allow myself to rest and restore.  I thought about it, and it’s something I incorporate into my life, and it’s become so second nature I don’t think about it.  He explained when he’s mentioned about needing to rest he’s been criticized for acting “old”, but I discern this differently; this man has learned to balance his life and understands it’s a matter of taking care of yourself.  Being older, I know I don’t have the energy I had even 20 years ago so to keep up with the schedule imposed upon myself, I must have balance or I will face burnout.

Life is all about balance.  With my busy schedule, I have to stop and take a moment to regroup and refresh, I sometimes stay in, but most times I’ll go to the park or to the beach to refresh.  If I take my camera I’ll try to capture my down time, but oftentimes I want to disconnect for a brief period.  I attend church regularly to keep myself in spiritual balance  and I enjoy reading, painting and have even taken a class, or I’ll take a day or afternoon to spend needed time with the people in my life I care about.  This balance keeps my creativity fresh and alive and allows my mind to rest and reset.

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If you are trying to juggle a busy schedule, whether it includes your own life, or one with children or taking care of a loved one, take a timeout for yourself, don’t feel guilty about it.  Sometimes this will make all the difference in how you feel  and will refresh your mind and body. In the comment section below, tell me how do you keep your life in balance?

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